Subbaram Narayan: a bureaucrat آ“ahead of his timeآ”

Vol 4, PW 1 (16 Feb 00) People & Policy

Oil secretary Subbaram Narayan is widely regarded as among the best the Indian oil ministry has had in the past decade.

Suave, sophisticated and with no dubious history behind him, Narayan fits in well with the nature of his minister, Ram Naik, who has also endeared himself to the local press for his transparency, and his willingness to spend time with journalists. An IAS officer of the 1965 batch and belonging to the Tamil Nadu cadre, Narayan took very little time in understanding the working of his new ministry.

Within a few days of taking over, he held a review meeting of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). During the meeting, IOC officials were surprised to discover that Narayan not only pointed out the problem areas they faced, but also came up with workable solutions.

It is extremely difficult to work with a man like him, an official in the oil ministry tells Petrowatch, You could almost say he is too intelligent for us - far ahead of his time. A hard taskmaster, it is believed the entire ministry is kept firmly in line by Narayan.

Immaculately dressed and never one to raise his voice, he has subtle ways of putting across his view, or reprimanding colleagues. An honest and upright officer, he is known to enjoy the occasional drink.

There have been reports that he may be removed from the post of Secretary, but Narayan is believed to wield sufficient clout in political circles to forestall any such move. He took over as petroleum secretary on October 21st, 1999 and his tenure if all goes well - is scheduled to end on June 30th, 2003.